Blackhawks confident they can avoid what Bruins did to Penguins
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 10, 2013 9:20PM
Updated: June 10, 2013 11:56PM
No goals. No assists.
That’s what Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby had in four games against the Boston Bruins.
So did Evgeni Malkin. And Jarome Iginla. And James Neal.
Chris Kunitz had a goal. Pascal Dupuis had an assist.
That’s it. That’s all the Penguins — the mighty, unstoppable, ridiculously talented Penguins — got in the Eastern Conference Final. Two measly goals. That’s how suffocating the Bruins’ team defense is. That’s how impenetrable goalie Tuukka Rask can be.
That’s how tall the task is for the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup
Final, which starts Wednesday at the United Center.
‘‘They’re a great team — defensively, especially,’’ winger Brandon Saad said. ‘‘We’re just going to have to be patient with it. We played a lot against Minnesota; they pride themselves on their defensive game, too. But this is a whole other level, and we’re just going to have to embrace the challenge.’’
At first glance, the Hawks are built similarly to the Penguins — on speed and on skill, with four offensive-minded lines. But they insist that they’re not fated to
suffer the same result as the Penguins, that they can beat any team in any manner.
‘‘I think Pittsburgh is really just about offense, kind of,’’ winger
Michael Frolik said. ‘‘They’ve got so many skilled players. They proved in the season they can score, like, three or four goals every game. I don’t know what happened, it just didn’t happen against Boston. They just couldn’t score. I think we have a good defense, too, even though we have good offense. So the Final, it’s going to be hard, but hopefully we can find a way.’’
Even with Patrick Kane scoring four goals in his last two games, even with Jonathan Toews finding his game again, even with proven playoff performers such as Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa and even with productive postseasons from Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw, the Hawks are expecting another low-scoring slugfest against the Bruins, who combine the team speed and depth of the Detroit Red Wings with the physical nature and elite goaltending of the Los Angeles Kings.
And the Hawks feel just as comfortable in the 2-1 and 3-2 games as they do in the 5-4 track meets.
‘‘We’ve played great hockey of late, and we’ve got to stick to our systems,’’ Shaw said. ‘‘We know it’s going to be a good defensive series. That’s why Pittsburgh may not have done as well. But we’re going to compete and play the best we can defensively and try to shut down their top guys.’’
Unlike the Kings, the Bruins can score, too. They outscored the Penguins 12-2 in their four-game sweep, including a 6-1 laugher in Game 2. And they put up 16 goals in five games against the New York Rangers and superstar goalie
Henrik Lundqvist in the second round. Top-line center David
Krejci leads all NHL players with nine goals and 12 assists through 16 playoff games, and his right wing, Nathan Horton, is second in the league in postseason scoring with seven goals and 10 assists.
So considering the Bruins’ offensive ability and defensive impermeability, the Hawks know every goal will be massive.
‘‘If you look at the scores in the Western playoffs, it’s always low scores — 2-1, 3-2,’’ Frolik said. ‘‘We don’t mind playing those games. We can win those types of games. We can do it.’’
Of course, the Penguins thought they could, too.
‘‘[The Bruins] play the right way,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘We’re going to have to work for what we’re going to get. We need to make sure we play a smart game, an intelligent game, a fast game and a hard game. . . . We’re going to have our work cut out for us, but we welcome the challenge.’’